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Tech Week: Smartphones And You, Virtual Reality, NPR Plays

The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is now part of Facebook's empire.
Jeff Chiu
The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is now part of Facebook's empire.

The tech news cycle didn't stop churning this week, with the fairy tale story of the Kickstarter-backed Oculus VR getting purchased by Facebook for $2 billion, the flop of a Candy Crush IPO and Turkey banning YouTube after already cracking down on Twitter use.

So let's get to our weekly wrap-up. For those of you new to our Week in Review, ICYMI is what you might have missed from NPR, the Big Conversations section covers the bigger news in the tech world and Curiosities are some other items of note we thought you should know about.


Dining With Your Smartphone:All Tech readers have been taking part in a running conversation this week about our growing attachments to our smartphones. When you're out with real, live human beings, when is it appropriate to be checking your smartphone or texting with others? You offered an innovation to help stop the distraction, takes on how it's affecting your relationships and a fun game if you want to stop peeking at your device.

Cops Can Crack Passwords: NPR's Martin Kaste explains the various ways police can get past your passcodes on your smartphones for their investigative purposes. A lot of hackers have helped them with these vulnerabilities.

Big Conversations

Backlash To The Big Buy: When Facebook shelled out $2 billion for the virtual reality company Oculus VR, developers and the gaming community balked. Noah Nelson explains why so much of the reaction to the Oculus purchase was negative. And we saved our Twitter interview with VR-thinker Howard Rheingold on the topic, if you want to see his take on the deal.

Data Collection Overhaul?: The New York Times reported that the Obama administration is proposing to "end its systematic collection of data about Americans' calling habits," and instead have to go through phone companies for data, only with a court order. The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald is skeptical — "it remains to be seen whether [Obama's] words will be followed by any real corresponding actions" — and says this puts the pro-NSA Democrats in a tough spot.


NY Times: Microsoft to offer Office for iPad, maybe a bit late

Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella is already making strategic changes. He announced the new Office app for the iPad, an idea that former CEO Steve Ballmer wasn't in a hurry to make a reality.

Re/Code: Send in the drones: Facebook's plan to beam Internet to the world

On Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg showed off the Facebook Connectivity Lab and its efforts to bring Internet connectivity to billions more people with drones, satellites and lasers.

Gawker: Tyler Cowen Got Pepper Sprayed in Class

One of the most popular economics bloggers in America, Tyler Cowen, was victim of a pepper spray attack while teaching his class at George Mason University. The school says Cowen is OK.

NPR Plays: Just a reminder for our gamers out there. All Tech is running a series by NPR's Steve Mullis to help get you back into gaming, or introduce any beginners to the gaming world. If you're more hard core, follow , which was selected as one of Tumblr's featured blogs this week.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elise Hu is a host-at-large based at NPR West in Culver City, Calif. Previously, she explored the future with her video series, Future You with Elise Hu, and served as the founding bureau chief and International Correspondent for NPR's Seoul office. She was based in Seoul for nearly four years, responsible for the network's coverage of both Koreas and Japan, and filed from a dozen countries across Asia.